I became a social worker in 1999 and a foster parent in 2005 after doing respite care for a friend of mine. After participating in respite care for my friend I welcomed a 2 year old and 10 month old (now my adopted children) into my home. I always had the desire to help children in need and after meeting the first children that I fostered I decided that this was something that my family and I felt called to do.
Over the years I have had over 20 children in my home for short term respite care, 8 newborns right from the hospital, teenagers, and I'm currently in the adoption process for my foster son, whom I have had since he was 5 months old.
I think so many people just assume that ALL foster children are awful, terribly behaved and will do horrible things to harm other people in the homes where they are placed. This is simply not true. Foster children are placed into care through no fault of their own and have often endured physical abuse or sexual abuse or neglect at the very least. My direct thoughts or fears before entering foster care were, “Can I really do this and do it right?” And “Will these children get what they need from me to flourish and thrive after all they have been through?”
I think my assumptions above tie in with this: all of the stereotypes that exist, I have seen to be unfounded 90 percent of the time! I also have found that the children who come into my home OR that I have dealt with on my social work caseload (as an adoption worker for older harder to place children)- they just want a chance. They just want to be loved and cared for and to feel safe and protected and to have someone there for them that they know will help them unconditionally and love and care for them. Patience is a must and commitment to the children you're helping is a must.
So many children are just waiting for someone to give them a chance and to care for them how they deserve to be cared for. Most of the children in care have never experienced what the true meaning of a family or family life is and I encourage people to be willing to open their minds and heart and home to such children to make a lasting difference.
SO many people are afraid to take the first step to become a foster parent because of misconceptions or worries, I was too! I encourage them to check into the process to see if it is right for them! You'll never know until you learn more.
Karissa, Foster Mom, Adoptive Mom and Social Worker
(above photos by Karissa)